January 28th, 2010

  • krinek

2. Matilda at the Speed of Light by Damien Broderick

Matilda at the Speed of Light
Title: Matilda at the Speed of Light
Editor: Damien Broderick
Year:  1988
# of pages:  263
Date read: 1/7/2010
Rating: 3*/5 = good


"'Waltzing Matilda' has always been an Australian catch-cry. Now Matilda is no longer waltzing. She's rushing into tomorrow, and so are we, breaking all the boundaries of Australian time and space and voyaging fast into a hall-of-mirrors future where even the past can be reexamined . . .to make the present itself scarcely credible! Indeed the landscapes of Matilda at the Speed of Light are familiar only until we enter them. Once we are inside, the 'science of fiction' turns into the 'fiction of science', and time and space never stand still.

So a traditional Aussie bush yarn, transformed with nostalgia for the twentieth century, tells of a life after the gene wars; a delightful feminist romp ends up where no man dares to tread any longer; an eerie high adventure describes Dreamtime-like mythical spirits and uncanny powers; a time-travel fable leads to a sepia-toned excursion into the life and times of Oscar Wilde;and a chance discovery gives rise to an outrageous reworking of Australia's political history. . .all this imbued with characteristic Antipodean tang and irony, often light-hearted, sometime venomous.

Certainly Matilda is waltzing no longer. Matilda is rushing into tomorrow, and we with her, at the speed of light. -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I liked this collection of Australian science fiction stories. I especially liked David Lake's "Creator" (with an interesting look at how worlds are created) and George Turner's "Not in Front of the Children" (a world in which death is definitely not talked about in certain social circles).
El Corazon

62. The Thirsty Muse; 63. Get in the Van; 64. Flight 714

The Thirsty Muse: Alcohol and the American Writer
by Tom Dardis

Started: January 26, 2010
Finished: January 28, 2010

A very interesting look at how alcoholism affected the personal lives and careers of William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Eugene O'Neill. 256 pages. Grade: B+
Get in the Van: On the Road With Black Flag
by Henry Rollins

Started: January 27, 2010
Finished: January 28, 2010

I don't know why I'd never read this before. Loved the tales of the road and Rollins' insights into the fans and himself. Some of the journal entries in 1985 get a little long-winded and artsy, but that's a minor complaint. 303 pages. Grade: A-
Flight 714
by Herge

Started/Finished: January 28, 2010

Maybe the most boring Tintin adventure yet. 64 pages. Grade: D
Total # of Books Read in 2010: 64
Total # of Pages Read in 2010: 13,126

Currently Reading: Lowboy by John Wray; Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold; The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting, an Oral History by Jim Walsh

Book 7

Title: Howling at the Moon: Tales of an Urban Werewolf
Author: Karen McInerney
Genre: Urban fantasy
Pages: 360

Summary: "Sophie Garou seems to have it all: a great job at a prestigious accounting firm, a closet that rivals a Nordstrom showroom, and a terrific boyfriend who isn't afraid of the "M" word. There's just one little itty-bitty problem: Sophie is a werewolf -- and her time of the month has a whole new meaning>

"Needless to say, life among yummy flesh-and-blood humans is no piece of steak . . . er, cake!, but regular doses of wolfsbane tea and a mother who runs a magic shopw have helped Sophie keeper paranormal pedigree under wraps. Still, when a sexy, golden-eyed werewolf prowls into town, Sophie finds herself struggling to keep her animal impulses in check -- not to mention trying to keep things on track with her super hot (and supoer human) lawyer boyfriend. What's more, someone is threatening to expose Sophie for what she really is. And when her mother is accused of selling a poison-laced potion, Sophie must sniff out a culprit before the fur hits the fan." ~Jacket copy

Thoughts: This was a quick and fast read. There are a lot of plot holes, things completely outside "normal" reality (the escapades with the Congressman's office and lawyer boyfriend), and Sophie is completely obsessed with sexy. One has to wonder, do her and the boyfriend ever to anything else? Sex with a horrid poison icy rash? Dude, sign me up! Seriously? Ug! Most of the characters outside of Sophie and studly werewolf are fairly two dimensional. They are cute and add something to the story, but . . . *shrug* All in all, it is a a quick read with not connection to reality :) I am curious about the other books, so I'll end up reading them.

Pages-to-date: 2053
Currently: Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs (finally the book was released in paperback!!!)

and they have no idea of what you know.

The Wonderful Adventures of Mary Seacole written by Mary Seacole

To be honest, I most likely wouldn’t have touched this book if it wasn’t a required reading for my British Lit course. Victorian novels aren’t really my cup of tea. I do enjoy their language to a degree, but after a point my mind wanders off into some distant thought process that has nothing to do with what is on the page. But, I have to admit that historically, it was a very intriguing piece. I had never heard of Mrs. Seacole until this book was introduced to me. The very fact that this was a woman of color in the Victorian era that had accomplished such revolutionary practices for the time, really was quite breath taking. She has a very sassy, and intelligent tone and her voice is extremely strong. You can’t help but try and discern if what she is saying is truth or propaganda. If you’re into History, give it a go.


Book 9: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

Book 9: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas: a Fable
Author: John Boyne, 2006.
Genre: Young Adult. Marketed as Historical Fiction. WWII - Holocaust.
Other Details: Hardback. 214 pages.

The novel opens in Berlin, in the early 1940s. Bruno is the 9-year old son of a high ranking Nazi officer. When his father is given an important new command, Bruno is reluctant to leave his friends. At this new home, which Bruno pronounces as 'OutWith', he is at first bored and lonely. He is also confused about why there are so many people there wearing only grey striped pyjamas and living in huts behind a high fence. Totally oblivious to the reality of the situation, Bruno makes friends with Shmuel, a Jewish boy his own age who lives on the other side of the fence. He secretly meets and talks to him daily. Eventually Bruno's friendship with Shmuel takes him from innocence to revelation.

Very quickly I dubbed this a 'fairytale' as surely no child of a high ranking Nazi could be so naive as to what was happening or not have been indoctrinated from an early age with anti-Semitic propaganda. There were so many glaring inconsistencies that I could not really take this seriously as a work of historical fiction and this constantly threw me out of any proper engagement with the story and characters. In later editions, Boyne has included author's notes explaining that this was meant to be read as a fable. My library edition did not include this, though its title page did contain the subtitle: 'a Fable', something I did not notice until I was finished though and a review brought it to my attention.

I will say upfront that I had no real desire to read this book and my heart rather sank when it was chosen by one of the reading groups I attend. Still I did read it because I wanted to be able to participate in the discussion. Most of the members of my reading group did find it very moving. We also discussed the film adaptation in some depth and the changes made that seemed to address some of the criticism levelled at the book.

Does it serve as an introduction for young adults or as an opening for teachers or parents to discuss the events of the Holocaust with young adults? That is not really a question I can really answer. Although I had issues with the content, I did find that it was written in a simple, readable style. Bruno's growing awareness of the real situation might well serve as a metaphor for a young reader's own awareness of harsh historical and political realities. The book does seem to have gathered many 5-star reviews on sites such as Amazon and on the CBBC's site a number of 11-12 years olds have written how moved they were by it. So yes, maybe it is doing the job the author intended.

Still I can't put myself back into that state of 'unknowing' and so for me the inaccuracies were far too glaring. If I wanted to choose a work of contemporary fiction aimed at young adults on the same issue I'd probably have chosen Jane Yolen's, The Devil's Arithmetic or even return to The Diary of Anne Frank, which had been my own introduction at school to the subject of the Holocaust.

John Boyne's web-page for the book.
Eric in Robe

No. 5 for 2010

Title: Getting Rid of Matthew
Author: Jane Fallon
Rating: 3/5
Book: 5/50 (10% completed)
Book in personal challenge with niun: 4/50 Fantasy, 3/50 Mystery and 0/25 Classics
Pages: 410 pgs
Total Pages 2,121/15,000 pages (14.14% completed)
Next up: Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

I don't really have much to say about this one. I liked the first 100-150 pages or so of this book. It was fast paced and the plot moved. After awhile, the plot just dragged. Everything that the book worked up to happened in the last 30 pages and the resolution felt rushed to me. Overall, it was a light, fluff read but I don't know if I will give Fallon another go.

xposted to 50bookchallenge, 15000pages and bookworm84

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